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Tara Sawyer named new chair of Alberta Barley

Tara Sawyer named new chair of Alberta Barley

Sawyer farms about 4,200 acres of crops in Acme, Alta.

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

An Acme, Alta. farmer is the new chair of Alberta Barley.

Tara Sawyer, who farms about 4,200 acres of barley, wheat and canola with her husband Matt and the couple’s three children, was named chair during the organization’s Dec. 9 annual general meeting.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” she told “To have the board’s confidence meant a lot and is a big deal for me.”

Her election as chair also means she’ll represent Alberta Barley on the Grain Growers of Canada board.

Sawyer, who’s in her second year as a director-at-large on Alberta Barley’s board, replaces David Bishop as chair after he served for two years. Her husband is also a past chair.

She’s also the first woman to chair the organization.

“I don’t take that lightly,” she said. “There’s a lot of really impressive women in the ag industry.”

Sawyer hopes to bring a different perspective and utilize her strengths around the board table.

“Within our farm operation I’m in the office, not running equipment,” she said. “I have very strong opinions and I’m not afraid to voice them. I’m also perfectly comfortable asking questions when I don’t know the answers.”

One item on the board’s agenda moving forward is rail transport.

Farmers have experienced backlogs over the past few years, leading to shipping delays, Sawyer said.

“That creates huge issues as an exporting nation,” she said. “We’re keeping an eye on the railways and we’re already starting to see a bit of a backup. We need to get our grain where it needs to go and to keep the rail companies accountable because we lose a lot of business when we have boats sitting in ports waiting for grain.”

Another issue of focus for the organization will be international trade.

China is Canada’s largest customer for feed and malt barley. China imported about 1.7 million tonnes of Canadian barley in 2018.

Chinese and Canadian reps were scheduled to meet in person in summer of 2020, but COVID forced those meetings to be held virtually, Sawyer said.

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